GosickS I – 4.5

[5]

Kazuya slowly walked out of the library and headed down the white pebbled road. In the distance, he heard someone yell, “Hey, Kujou!”

The voice belonged to Inspector de Blois. Kazuya looked up to find him standing in another one of his poses.

“The case may have been solved thanks to my hard work, but there’s still much to be done. Apparently, most of Cuiaran’s loot is still slumbering somewhere on campus. It’s been quite the headache to locate all of it!”

“I see….” Kazuya’s attention was drawn to the object that the inspector was holding under his arm. When he recognized it, he frowned. “Um… Why are you carrying around that doll?”

“Oh, this?” The inspector cradled the doll gently in his arms, then said boastfully, “Isn’t she a beauty? She was crafted by Grafenstein, the genius dollmaker.”

“…Huh.”

“One of his dolls alone is worth more than a house, you know.”

“….?”

“I had forgotten where I put it, and I was looking for it all over. It’s a good thing I found it, my boy.”

Kazuya gave a start, remembering how he had seen the inspector looking for something earlier. Then he said in exasperation, “So that was your doll? For God’s sake! A major misunderstanding happened because of that doll! It really had me … worried sick….”

The inspector was taken aback at the sight of Kazuya’s anger. Then a loud cracking sound came suddenly from the porcelain doll’s neck, prompting the inspector to emit an earsplitting shriek. “Aaah! The head’s falling off!”

“Well, it was handled a little roughly earlier…”

“D-did you do that?”

“Cuiaran dropped it.”

“Th-that damned thief…!” the inspector growled, trembling in rage. Kazuya walked away from him.

*****

Kazuya shyly peeked into the infirmary. “Avril? Avril…? Oh, there you are.”

Miss Cécile was seated next to an elderly doctor who had arrived from the village. As Kazuya entered the room, they both turned around to look at him. The real Avril, who had been rescued from the storehouse just a short while earlier, was sitting up in bed, munching away at a mouthful of food. She looked famished.

Avril looked up at the sound of Kazuya’s voice, and beamed at him cheerfully. “Are you Kujou? Miss Cécile told me your name. Thank you for rescuing me earlier.”

“Uh, not at all…” Kazuya felt slightly charmed by the sight of her vivacious, carefree smile.

Avril continued to speak while chewing. “So, what happened is that after I crossed over from England and got on the train to Sauvure, I started chatting with this woman who was sitting in the same compartment, and I told her all sorts of things about myself. Like my name, how old I was, and that I was going to study abroad at St. Marguerite’s School. I also talked about my memories of my grandpa….”

“Oh. So then she…?”

“Exactly! So I ended up telling her about my family’s stolen heirloom. That my dear grandfather, the explorer Sir Bradley, had left it to me as my inheritance, and how I had hoped to use that to become a woman explorer someday, but then it was stolen by the great thief Cuiaran…. I also mentioned about hearing a rumor that Cuiaran had hidden it somewhere on the campus of St. Marguerite’s School, and that I decided to come here to study so I could look for it…. But, but…” Avril’s cheeks puffed out in frustration.

“But that woman turned out to be the second Cuiaran herself. And she had been looking for the loot hidden by the first Cuiaran. She came with me to the school, and held me captive inside the storehouse. And then she got inside the school as a student, pretending to be me.”

Avril’s mood suddenly turned upbeat, and she added gamely, “But I bit her right on the fingers of her right hand. And that got her so mad at me that she tied me up….”

Kazuya recalled Cuiaran’s injured fingers. So that was from Avril biting her…. This girl must be pretty tough.

Avril looked up at Kazuya with a sunny smile. “I felt so low the whole time. So when you came to rescue me, I thought you were my black-haired prince. Ha, ha, ha!”

“Ha, ha, ha!” Miss Cécile joined in her laughter. “Kujou, a prince! Ha, ha, ha!”

“…Miss Cécile, it isn’t that funny,” said Kazuya crossly.

She quieted down, but then—“Hee-hee!”—burst into another guffaw.

Kazuya sucked on his teeth in annoyance and sulked for a moment. Then he pulled out the postcard that Victorique had given him—the postcard affixed with the Penny Black—and handed it to Avril.

Avril stared at it for a minute, dumbfounded, before flinging away her half-eaten sandwich. Miss Cécile made a startled squeak and reached out to catch the flying sandwich in mid-air.

Avril reverently took the postcard from Kazuya, tears filling her eyes. “Grandpa!”

“I’m happy for you. It’s back safe in your hands.”

“Y-yeah!”

A message from the explorer Sir Bradley to his granddaughter was written on the postcard. I am giving this to you in hopes that you’ll become a splendid woman explorer when you grow up someday. Use this to cover the cost of your expeditions. Soon your grandpa will cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon. I’ll see you again when I come back!

Avril broke down sobbing. Through her tears, she still managed to flash a bright smile at Kazuya. “Thank you, Kujou.”

“Not at all…”

“I’ve only just arrived here, so there’s lots I still don’t know about this place. I hope you’ll be my guide.”

“O-okay…”

“Let’s be friends, Kujou.”

“Sure, but…” Kazuya had no problem with being asked to befriend a cute girl, but he couldn’t help but feel slightly apprehensive. After all, thanks to the ghost stories circulating around campus, he was the man labeled as the infamous “reaper who comes in spring”. Once Avril found out, she might start to feel afraid of him, too….

But then again, Avril is a foreign student, and unlike the other students here, she may not even be interested in ghost stories at all….

Kazuya collected himself, and decided to pose a question to her. “By the way, Avril. Do you like ghost stories?”

She answered cheerily, and without the slightest hesitation. “I love them!”

“Is that right…” Kazuya hung his head.

*****

In the small, affluent Western European nation of Sauvure, a foreign student, Kazuya Kujou, came from a certain country in the Orient to St. Marguerite’s School, a distinguished academy soaring high up in the Alps. There he met the beautiful young girl Victorique, the mysterious challenger to chaos who spent her days secluded in the library tower.

And now the adventurer’s granddaughter, Avril Bradley, had also arrived…

Later on, they would be entangled into the sinister phenomena revolving around an accursed serial poisoning countess and the loot left behind by the great thief Cuiaran, and they would end up turning the school upside down.

But that was, once again, an entirely different story….

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